The ‘Right Thing to Do’ with Your Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our of counsel, Steven M. Sack, was featured in another article this week, discussing how employers should view and address treating their employees during these uncertain times. The Forbes article focused on how to best deal with layoffs going forward urging employers to ensure fairness and equity.

Mr. Sack emphasized how unprecedented these times are noting that this is all new territory, without any case law, regulations or guidance comparing it to the “Wild West.” However, with almost forty years of experience in employment law, Mr. Sack believes that employers should focus on doing the right thing, urging them to “keep employees on payroll as long as possible, even if that means reducing hours.” If they must reduce personnel during this time, he advises to stay discrimination neutral. For example, he advises to stay mindful of age discrimination and letting go of those employees who were most recently hired. This tactic is the most fair approach if an employer must reduce their work force. “Not only does following this strategy avoid potential age discrimination litigation, but it also meets union requirements, if applicable, that do not allow for senior workers to be fired before junior workers.”

Additionally, if layoffs are a necessary measure, Mr. Sack suggests laying off the same percentage of people under 40 and over 40 equally. “For example, reduce headcount by ten percent for employees under 40 and the same for ages 41 and over.” It is important to take into consideration other group classifications such as gender or race within these percentage cuts to avoid potential legal action. Also, giving these employees sufficient notice with regard to their layoff as well as ample severance packages to get them through this difficult time is advised. The article also covers some of the best rehiring methods when the time does come to go back to business as usual. Make sure to read the full article here

This is a difficult time for businesses and employees alike. If you are struggling to understand your rights or any of the new legislation offering relief to workers, do not hesitate to call our law firm for a free and confidential phone conversation. Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP can be reached at (212) 300-0375 or you can find additional information on our site here